Kamala Matata

Page 1 of 1
May 28, 2007

"Hakuna Matata," a Swahili term immortalized into song for the 1994 Disney classic The Lion King, translates into "There are no worries." Simba and friends could never have adopted this problem-free philosophy, however, had their particular circle of life been occupied by a six-foot-seven, 375-pound Ugandan headhunter like Kamala.

A belly-slappin' savage draped in form-fitting loincloth, the face-painted Ugandan was a sight forging sore eyes. Yet WWE Superstars were more visibly concerned over what sat inside his gastronomic gut; within hours of first setting (bare)foot inside a WWE ring in mid-1984, Kamala had earned the unpalatable locker-room reputation of being a cannibal—and not of the "fine young" variety. His terrifying tribal headgear did nothing to dissuade such perceptions, nor did the bellowing bestial wails that represented his words. And he sure didn't make a case to prove otherwise during a now-infamous TV interview with Vince McMahon, in which the famished giant pulled an Ozzy Osbourne and feasted on a live chicken.

Before everyone starts running to cancel their subscriptions to National Geographic, consider how restless this native must have felt within WWE's four-corner surroundings. Plucked out of darkest Africa, Kamala was essentially exploited by those he let get close enough to him, from masked handler Kim Chee to managers like King Curtis Iaukea, Mr. Fuji and Harvey Wippleman. Nevertheless, knowing that couldn't afford Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant or other legendary Superstars the luxury of "taking it easy" on the big guy, lest Kamala crumple their insides with a canvas-flattening Ugandan Splash.

While many opponents feared the culture-shocked brute, he was not without his own share of phobias. Ironically, despite being part of his natural habitat, the mere sight of snakes—especially those slithering under the care of Jake "The Snake" Roberts—made Kamala react like a babbling (and extremely overweight) Indiana Jones. His other, more rational fear came in the form of Undertaker, who'd claim victory over Kamala in WWE's first-ever Coffin Match (which soon evolved into the more familiar Casket Match) at Survivor Series 1992.

Strangely enough, losing to The Deadman that night ultimately guided this ostracized outsider toward a semblance of inner peace and tranquility. Under the newly-ordained guidance of the Reverend Slick, Kamala would learn to serve man—and not as some appetizing entrée. Though he'd remain a terrifying threat in the ring, adversaries no longer had to think about counting fingers and toes following a match.

On occasion, the savagery of Kamala returns to rear its ugly headgear inside the ring—most recently at WrestleMania X-Seven's "Gimmick Battle Royal," plus in matches against Randy Orton and Umaga. Though his appearances are few and far between, it's clear that the Ugandan giant will forever consider the squared circle as his habitat. And WWE.com knows better than to disagree with its No. 3 Wildest Superstar—or make any sudden movements around him.

View Comments

ArticlesYou May Also Like